The Portland Timbers U23s will take on Arizona United of USL-Pro in the Second Round of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup, the 101st edition of the annual single-elimination tournament. The match kicks off tonight at 7:00pm PDT from Providence Park.
For the Timbers U23s, it will be their first match of the season and their third consecutive appearance in the USOC. Last season, they defeated Sacramento Gold of the National Premier Soccer League 3-2, but fell to the Charleston Battery of USL-Pro 2-1 a week later.
The U23s qualified for the USOC after finishing as the top United States-based side in the USL Premier Development League's Northwest Division, where they finishing only behind the Victoria Highlanders.
Portland Timbers U23s
Not much is known yet about this year's squad. The roster was announced Monday and they will be once again led by Jim Rilatt, who has coach the U23s since their inception in 2009. Stumptown Footy community member GroganCP gave us a good look at the incoming players. For a detailed look at the squad, check out his post here.
Returning from last year's squad is defender Evyn Hewitt (San Diego St.), midfielders Jose Ribas (Creighton) and Will Seymour (Oregon State), and forward Reed McKenna (UC-Santa Barbara).
Timbers Academy U18 midfielders Jesse Garcia-Aguilar and Foster Langsdorf, and forward Anthony Macchione are all expected to make appearances this season and appear on the official PDL roster, though they were not on the roster released Monday. Garcia-Aguilar has recorded 2 goals on the 2013-14 Academy season, while Landsdorf has recorded 1 goal and Macchione leads the team with 12 goals. They have also previously appeared with the Timbers Reserves and U23s in prior seasons.
Arizona United SC
The U23s will find themselves facing a greater challenge as they take on a professional side in the first round for the first time in their participation in the USOC.
Rebranded in the offseason from Phoenix FC, Arizona United currently sits tied for fourth place on the USL-Pro table with 10 points from 6 matches played. Forward Brandon Swartzendruber leaders them in scoring with 2 goals and 1 assist, while forwards Bradlee Baladez and Johnathan Top, and midfielders Kadeem Dacres and Paolo DelPiccolo have each scored a goal as well.
Arizona United comes in following a 4-0 loss to Richmond Kickers on Friday in and 1-0 victory over Harrisburg City Islanders on Saturday, with both matches on the road.
The odds would seem to be in Arizona's favor as a squad with 6 matches under their belt against a just-assembled Timbers U23s side, but the USOC is a strange tournament, as Timbers fans are well aware of, and they might be catching them at a good time, with two matches played over the weekend and a cross country flight to Portland.
The match will hinge on how well the team gels in the early part of the match. Last season against Sacramento, the U23s grew as a side throughout the match, going down 2 goals in the first 25 minutes before running off 3 straight goals to move on to the next round.
Portland Timbers U23s vs. Arizona United SC
U.S. Open Cup Second Round
Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 7:00pm PDT
Providence Park - Portland, Oregon
I will be live-tweeting the match @CascadiaFooty.